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from Does God Exist? 4th Quarter 2019

STAY UP-TO-DATE ON NEWS AND NOTES. The stories in News and Notes are condensed from articles previously published on our website DOES GOD EXIST? TODAY. You can use the links within each of these articles to see the original posts (on the Does God Exist? Today website) for more details. (Some of the articles below have links to outside sources, which may not be available after we have published this page.) There are also many other interesting and informative articles on the Does God Exist? Today website each day. We encourage you to follow us daily on “Does God Exist? Today.” On that website you can also subscribe to our free weekly e-mail update. We call it “The Best of the Week from DOES GOD EXIST?” It contains links to the most popular of our posts on DOES GOD EXIST? TODAY and our facebook page (Facebook.com/evidence4god).

NEW INTEREST IN EXORCISM. In 1973, movie theaters were showing The Exorcist adapted from the novel by William Peter Blatty. There seems to be a new interest in exorcism because people have found they can use it to make a lot of money. A stage play based on Blatty's novel has debuted in Los Angeles and London and is scheduled to go on tour. Meanwhile, the Vatican has opened its course on exorcism to members of Christian denominations which have included Lutherans, Anglicans, Greek Orthodox, and Pentecostals.

Those who study the Bible in-depth will find that there are clear statements that Jesus overcame all forces not from God and that these things would cease (see Zechariah 13:2; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10; Colossians 2:15; and 1 John 3:8). 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that everything that happens to us is a common experience of humanity. Demon possession requiring an exorcism is clearly not a common experience. James 4:7 tells us that we simply need to resist Satan, and he will flee from us.

Those who minimize this new interest in exorcism as a by-product of Catholic tradition need to understand that interest in the occult has grown. People write off the popularity of Harry Potter as an entertainment fantasy, but the number of people involved in the occult is huge. Requests for exorcisms in Indianapolis reported by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis exceeded 1700, and in Italy the number is more than 500,000 per year.

This false use of religion is as old as religion itself. In 1 Samuel 28, Saul goes to a woman who ran a séance to try to get advice for a battle. To the woman's horror, the real deal (Samuel) shows up as a miracle. In Acts 19:13-16, a group of vagabond Jews try to use exorcism as part of their act, and the results are catastrophic. In Jesus' day, exorcisms had a spiritual purpose to show the power of God over even those who were in spiritual trouble. Today, that purpose does not exist. As 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, Satan cannot attack us on a level that we cannot resist and overcome. Source: “The New Wave of Exorcism,” by Stuart Vyse, Skeptical Inquirer, September/October 2019

NATURAL BALANCE. Among the design features built into the creation is that of avoiding over-eating of plants by herbivores or over-predation of herbivores by carnivores. Sometimes there are surprising ways of keeping balance in nature.

Did you know, for example, that bears help control the production of caterpillars? The Yellowstone National Park staff reports that Yellowstone bears in August eat an astonishing 40,000 moths a day. The moths are migrating from grasslands over the mountains in Yellowstone, and they are actually above the timberline. This allows the bears to climb up and get easy nutrition as they prepare for hibernation in the coming winter. From an ecological standpoint, it limits how many caterpillars are produced, preserving plants for many animals in nearby grasslands.

Science continues to learn about how many factors are involved in keeping the balance of any ecosystem. The design of all ecosystems is so intricate that knowing how many checks and balances are required is almost impossible. Humans frequently have upset nature's balance with catastrophic results. Who would have thought that bears above the timberline in Yellowstone National Park would make a massive contribution to the ecology of nearby grasslands? Keeping balance in nature requires God's intelligent planning and design. Source: https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/bears-eat-moths-in-august

GALLUP POLL ON EVOLUTION. Here is a summary of the results from the latest Gallup poll on evolution conducted in June of 2019:

  • 40% of those in the survey said they believed that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.”
  • 33% said they believed that “human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process.”
  • 22% said they believed that “human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.”

Atheists have pointed out that the 40% group were associated with lower educational levels, Protestantism, and weekly church attendance. The message the atheists are putting out is that those who believe in God are poorly educated recluses who hide in their church buildings and refuse to look at the evidence.

The Young Earth view that humans have been unchanged in the physical history on this planet is not held by most of the major Protestant denominations. Assuming that the 40% represented all those who attend church weekly is a very bad assumption. The phrase “less advanced forms of life” is so ambiguous that we do not know whether they are talking about an amoeba or Homo erectus. The report includes a graph of the changes to the way these questions have been answered since 1952. Whether the changes are because people have more facts or because the media have indoctrinated them is open to debate.

The Does God Exist? ministry is an effort to show that science and faith are friends and not enemies. We do not represent any denomination and try to be open to all kinds of evidence — scientific and biblical. We have materials at all educational levels, and our college-level correspondence course is available on our doesgodexist.org website. You can watch our video series covering questions of creation and God on our doesgodexist.tv website. All of these materials are free. Source: https://news.gallup.com/poll/261680/americans-believe-creationism.aspx

YOU ARE A SPACESHIP. We have often referred to the excellent website apod.nasa.gov which daily features the “Astronomy Picture of the Day.” The August 18, 2019, post had an artistic rendition of a human with a star-filled background titled “Human as Spaceship.” The opening line of the explanation is, “You are a spaceship soaring through the universe.”

The point of the presentation is that as we soar through the universe, we are not alone. We are the captains of our ships, our human bodies, because we are not a singular living organism. There are a massive number of separate organisms that exist inside our bodies that do specific things for us. They help digest food, fight disease and infection, and carry vital materials on a liquid highway (your bloodstream) from one end of your body to the other. These organisms are the crew of your spaceship. They are bacteria, fungi, and archaea, and they actually outnumber your own cells. Science still does not know what many of those organisms do, but they have their own DNA, and together they make up the human microbiome.

God's creation of the human body is not like the process of building a machine. To build a machine you would put together pre-manufactured parts in a prescribed way. To build a working and living human body requires a host of communities which do the jobs they were designed to do in ways that science is just beginning to understand. David said it best in Psalm 139:14: “… I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.”

ABORTION INCONSISTENCIES. On August 2, 2019, a 29-year-old woman in Anderson, Indiana, was shot in the head by her boyfriend. She was 21 weeks pregnant, and her twins died before she did. The boyfriend was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, and two counts of murder/feticide for killing the twins. The dictionary defines feticide as the destroying of a fetus or the causing of an abortion. In Indiana, knowingly or intentionally killing a fetus in any developmental stage is murder. In some states, a baby can be put to death at the time of birth.

The inconsistency of abortion issues is very obvious. It is compounded by the refusal to deal with the evidence and the facts of conception and birth. You cannot defend the position that the fetus is an extension of the mother's body. Morning sickness is because the woman's body knows that the baby is a foreign entity.

When the sperm meets the egg, an individual is formed with a unique genome. Before birth, the unborn child is aware of much of what is going on in the world outside the mother's body. There are other options available to a woman who has a baby inside her that she does not want to raise. As the father of three adopted children, I know the joy that any child can bring to those couples who want to be parents but are unable to do so for medical reasons.

Following God's Word in marriage, sex, and family would solve the inconsistency of abortion issues. When we fail to follow God's instructions, compounding the damage by a violent, destructive solution is not wise.

FIREARMS ISSUE. In 1968 the number of deaths due to firearms in the United States was roughly 24,000. In 2017 the number of fatalities was roughly 40,000. In almost 50 years, there has been a dramatic increase that no one can deny. That leads to people placing blame for gun violence. What else has changed in those 50 years? Some say that mental illness is the cause of the increase. I would suggest that we have always had the mentally ill with us. Some say that gun availability is the cause of this, but access to guns is much more restricted today than it was 50 years ago. So when placing blame for gun violence, we cannot completely point to those factors.

The one thing that has changed in the same time period is our country's fundamental faith in God. When you read our historical documents, you see a basic declaration of the importance of living by God's principles. Even though my father was an atheist, he grew up with a father who was a minister, and he believed and lived by the basic teachings of the Bible. In the last 50 years, we have been saturated with the doctrine propagated by the media and the educational establishment that humans are just animals. Along with that, goes the belief in survival of the fittest as the basic rule by which we should live. In the animal world, you generally do not see the notion that the less fit should be cared for and looked after by those who are fit. Everything from abortion to euthanasia is radically affected by what we believe about the worth of a human being. If educated leaders in the secular world want to eliminate those they see as unfit, how can we expect a mentally ill person not to embrace the same idea? The problem is how they identify the unfit.

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). That is a principle of Christianity and should be applied to both spiritual and physical weakness. In Matthew 25, when Jesus describes the basis of judgment by God, he said, “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, … I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick … in prison and you came to visit me.” It is only when a person accepts the biblical concept that ALL human beings are created in the image of God, and therefore, ALL human life is sacred, that we can hope to see a change.

Picture credit:
© abracadabra99. Image from BigStock.com.
© Mangostar. Image from BigStock.com.
Space Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, and J. Maiz- Apellániz (IAA); Acknowledgement: D. De Martin; Human Image Copyright: Charis Tsevis; Composition: R. J. Nemiroff